3 Questions to Ask to Decide What to Tier to Microsoft Azure

by Tammy Batey – September 12, 2017

Microsoft Ignite, which will offer more than 700 sessions and deep dives into Microsoft products, is designed to educate new customers about the Microsoft platform, including Azure, and provide technical content to existing customers.

Igneous Systems will be among the 160 companies exhibiting Sept. 25-29 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. With the Microsoft Ignite app, you can find directions to Booth #2167, message with other attendees (including the Igneous team) and build your personal conference agenda.

Once at our booth, you can get a demo of how Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud tiers backup data to Microsoft Azure so that our customers can fully embrace hybrid cloud. Stop by and say hello to Steve Pao, Kevin Kotecki, Andy Pernsteiner and Lily Albrecht.

In our blog post “3 Questions to Ask to Decide What to Tier to Cloud,” we explored the history of AWS Cloud. Igneous Chief Technology Officer Jeff Hughes offered tips for enterprises to decide which data to tier to AWS Cloud and which data to leave in their datacenters.

You may be asking yourself, what data do you tier to Azure and what do you leave in the datacenter? Igneous Vice President, Product Christian Smith says to ask yourself these three questions to help you decide what data to move to Azure. But first, a brief history of Microsoft Azure.

History of Microsoft Azure

On February 1, 2010, Microsoft released Windows Azure, renaming it Microsoft Azure on March 25, 2014 and calling it “the public cloud platform for customers as well as for our own services Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Bing, OneDrive, Skype and XBox Live.”

In April 2016, Microsoft launched Azure Cool Blob Storage for the storage of cool object data for backups, media content, scientific data and any other seldom accessed data that is “a perfect candidate for cool storage.”

In August 2017, Microsoft announced Archive Blob Storage, which offered a lower cost tier, and Blob-Level Tiering, which aimed to let customers manage the lifecycle of their data across tiers at the object level.  

But like Amazon Web Services, Azure has evolved its cloud to be more than just storage. The Forbes article “Microsoft and Google Race to Build the World’s Smartest Cloud” mentions the 20 intelligent services, such as image recognition and language comprehension, available to Azure subscribers. The article also mentions Project Brainwave, which will involve field-programmable gate array chipsets to power AI in Microsoft datacenters.

“Gone are the days when clouds were used simply as a storage mechanism,” writes Forbes contributor Harold Stark. “Cloud services, today, are used to run businesses, manage operations, develop software and even play video games on the fly. With the demand for more cloud-based applications always on the rise, now is probably the best time to invest in the development of machine learning technologies that help supply artificial intelligence on the cloud.”


Deciding what to tier to cloud

Igneous secondary storage solutions for massive file systems integrate with Microsoft object storage offerings, namely Microsoft Azure.

During our demo at Microsoft Ignite, we’ll show how Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud updates indexes to reflect the location of data and quickly restores data back to NAS devices when needed.

With Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud, enterprises enjoy high-performance data storage across their datacenters and Azure, and across-tier search to easily find data no matter where it is. Other benefits of Igneous’ infrastructure as-a-service include seamless backups, easy archiving and quick restores.

With remote management and a user-friendly search interface, Igneous makes it easy to go hybrid. But how do enterprises decide which data to effortlessly tier to Azure and which data to leave in their datacenters? Christian suggests asking three questions.  

Question #1 - How are you going to efficiently move your data?

As Jeff Hughes mentioned in our previous blog post, enterprises typically move data to cloud because they want storage that’s more affordable than their primary tier. Improved efficiency can save significant money.

Moving data is the hardest part of going from an on-premises environment to an off-prem environment, according to Christian. If you can’t move that data efficiently, you’re wasting IT’s time, which amounts to money, and you’re missing out on opportunities, which also translates to wasted money.

Question #2 - Will you want to stretch workloads between on-prem and cloud?

As people within the enterprise use data, they should consider where they want to use it, Christian said. Their options are on-prem next to people or burst into the cloud, using the compute available.

Question #3 - Will you want to recover data in cloud instead of standing up expensive remote sites?

You can’t think about backup and archive without also considering restore. Having that confidence that you’ll be able to retrieve data again once archived is critical.

With many secondary storage options, recovering data can be costly and time-consuming, Jeff said in our previous post. So if you’re highly likely to need to return the data to on-premises storage, tiering to cloud may not be the right call.

And how do you want to recover that data?

“Many environments have a data recovery site that is almost a mirror of their production site,” Christian said. “The equipment is expensive and seldom used except in the case of a failover. Wouldn't it be easier and more economical if they had DR in the cloud?”  

See you at Ignite!

We can’t wait to attend Microsoft Ignite. Visit us in Booth #2167 to learn more about Igneous’ hybrid cloud solutions, and for a demo of how easy Igneous Hybrid Storage Cloud makes it to tier data to Azure.